The word collagen comes from the Greek word for glue, which is a useful way to think about the role of collagen in physical health. In bones, tendons, muscles, and even your teeth, collagen protein is a kind of structure, to cells and tissues together, and help them keep the shape and integrity.
But as you get older, your body produces less collagen. Some supplements and food manufacturers are marketing collagen products to boost your body’s level.
“Collagen is basically a sale of amino acids,” says Dr. Mark Moyad, director of preventive and alternative medicine at the university of Michigan, and the author of the supplemental manual. Amino acid is part of the protein, Moyad says with collagen supplements and food chain contains collagen protein, amino acid derivatives, or sometimes just amino acid itself, separated from their keys. There are different types of collagen; Some come from animal bones or skin, and some come from animal cartilage.
Extra animal sources of collagen, either as supplements or as food for bone broth, can help the body replenish the storage of collagen. Some studies support this idea. “There are a number of preliminary studies showing that everything from osteoarthritis to skin improvement has potential benefits,” Moyad said.
Pennsylvania state university in 2008, a study has found six months of athletes taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements – basically has been broken down into digestible amino acids of collagen – during the activities and the rest experienced less joint pain. Similar studies have linked collagen supplements to lower back pain or lower knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis.
The study also linked collagen supplements to improved skin elasticity and skin moisture.
But Moyad stressed that all of these studies are preliminary. “The study is generally weak,” he said. “it means a small range, a short duration, or no subsequent replication.”
In addition, it’s not clear that eating collagen will increase your body level. Just as nutrition researchers have repeatedly mentioned dietary fat, just because food contains something doesn’t mean that your body will absorb or produce more fat.
Moyad said he was also concerned about contaminants in collagen and food. “Since these things are mainly from the animal part, I want to know the heavy metal content of these supplements and the levels of creatinine,” he said. Meat products contain harmful heavy metals like copper and arsenic, and creatinine is a toxic decomposition product in muscle tissue.
“I don’t need heavy metals or creatinine in my body,” Moyad said. He added that he also saw collagen supplements and side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
It’s not clear how much collagen, or what type, is the most effective. Cheap grocery store gelatin – derived from animal collagen – may be the same good joints and skin as an expensive supplement powder, Moyad says. “But no one has done research, so we don’t know,” he said.
He says people who have tried collagen supplements within a few months don’t see any significant risks and see if it works for them. However, if you have any side effects or any GI problem, please stop.
If you’re going to give collagen a go, moid says, he also wants you to consider the lifestyle choices that damage collagen as you age. These include smoking, high blood sugar, sunlight, sedentary lifestyle and weight gain.
He said: “if you take these (collagen) supplements, but does not change your lifestyle, like the quality of gasoline in the car, rather than an oil change or do any other things to maintain.